June 3, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 65°F


Giving Day 2023 raises record amount for annual fund and student opportunities

Donations given to Ithaca College on April 25 for its annual Giving Day surpassed the amount raised in previous years. This year, some organizations and programs offered new opportunities for giving.

Donors have been helping fund the college on Giving Day since it began in 2015. Giving Day is an annual 24-hour fundraiser when the college receives donations from alumni, philanthropists, families and members of the campus community.

Tanya Hutchins ’89, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, said this year’s goal was to surpass 5,000 donors. While there were only 3,329 donors, a record-breaking $2.5 million was raised — a decrease from the 4,794 donors in 2022 but an increase from the $2.2 million raised last year.

Other institutions have Giving Days, like Cornell University, which raised $13 million in March, the University of Arizona, which raised $5.2 million in February and the University of Oklahoma, which raised $22.6 million earlier in April.

Hutchins said the IC Annual Fund is an important place for donors to give their money. She said it helps with costs like Wi-Fi, utilities, renovations on buildings and money for student organizations. Hutchins said donations to the annual fund are necessary because they are used to support every part of the college. She said 45% of donations go to financial aid for students; 37% go to the learning experience, like classroom equipment, seminars and the Ithaca College Library; 10% go to maintaining the infrastructure and grounds of the college; and 8% goes to campus life at the college, like the Student Governance Council, sports teams and tutoring services.

“I love the people who give to the annual fund because that’s where it’s needed most,” Hutchins said. “The annual fund always needs help.”

In an Instagram post from April 25, IC RiseUp encouraged donors to send funds directly to the independent organization’s PayPal instead of the IC Annual Fund because the group feels the college administration has not centered the interests of students of color. IC RiseUp has organized several events throughout the spring semester in protest of discrimination on campus. Most recently, the group distributed a list of demands for the college to better support students of color.

Donors could give to the IC Annual Fund or can make a gift to a specific campus experience, like the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change and the MLK Scholars Program as well as individual schools, athletic teams and extracurriculars.

Hutchins said she works with alumni on and around Giving Day and begins reaching out to them a week in advance of Giving Day. Hutchins said she reminds alumni of what they were dedicated to when they were in college.

“For me, most alumni give the most when they are giving to their passions,” Hutchins said. “Whatever set our hearts on fire when we were at IC.”

The college campaigned on social media and raised funds for the institution. Donations are non-refundable but are tax-deductible and were given through the college’s giving portal, GiveGab.


The college put up signs outside Alumni Hall to promote the 24-hour annual fundraiser, Giving Day. Alumni are target donors but anyone can donate to the area of their choice. Prakriti Panwar/The Ithacan

Lois Shofer ’67 received the lifetime achievement award from the college in 2022 in part for creating an annual scholarship for community college students who wanted to continue their education at Ithaca College. She said that since she graduated, she has donated about $500 to the college each year.

“I didn’t know about Giving Day,” Shofer said. “I give every year whether it’s Giving Day or not. I’m a firm believer that you need to give back.”

Susan Bassett, associate vice president and director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports, said coaches contact their alumni for donations and some volunteer to become champions for the team they used to play for. Champions were formerly known as alumni ambassadors, yet their role remains the same: to advertise and raise funds for a specific program at the college. Bassett also said any kind of donation would make a difference for a student-athlete.

“I hope that donors will support Ithaca College generally along with intercollegiate athletics and their sports teams as well,” Basset said. “We want to provide the best possible educational experience for students and student-athletes.”

Current athletes like Lauren Lobdell, a graduate student on the cross-country team, are grateful for donations to their sport. Lobdell said the donations from Giving Day have made a great impact on the team.

“We rallied as a team and were able to get a lot of funding last year,” Lobdell said. “We were able to do a trip as a team during the preseason. I think a lot of that money went to that, which was a cool thing we were able to do together.”

Bassett said donor gifts keep the college at the cutting edge of sports performance and help to keep the college competing nationally. These funds can help maintain programs like the Ithaca College Athletics Performance Program, which educates student-athletes in rest and recovery, nutrition and sport-specific training.

After 24 hours, the Athletics Annual Fund received over $550,000 from 2,443 donors — the second most funded on the Giving Day leaderboard.

Amy Falkner, dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications, said the school has a new fund she organized this year called Special Opportunities for Students. SOS raised $21,139 from 76 donors, which will be used to fund unexpected projects and trips in the future. The School of Business does not have sub-funds to donate more specifically to. The School of Health Sciences and Human Performance has nine “areas of interest” in addition to its annual fund. The School of Humanities and Sciences has four areas of interest and the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance has one sub-fund for the IC Pep Band.

Falkner said that trips like sending students to the White House in D.C. for World College Radio Day and covering the 2022 Cortaca Jug at Yankee Stadium were not included in the general budget and that the SOS fund will provide extra funds when they are needed.

“I thought to myself, ‘There must be some way to stockpile some funding for when we have these incredible opportunities for our students,’” Falkner said.

Falkner said donations to the new SOS fund from alumni are necessary to help Park students if they need help funding an internship because the school has more students asking than they can provide for in an average year. Falker also said the SOS fund is necessary to maintain the “Park promise” that once students walk in the doors of the Park school, they will have the opportunity to create anything they want.

“We have some things budgeted because we do expect that The Ithacan and ICTV and WICB are going to win something [in competitions],” Falkner said. “But we don’t have enough. … [Now we have] a fund set up so when the unexpected happens, I can say yes.”

First-year student Lennon Zych said his parents were interested in donating to either the School of Humanities and Sciences or the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance because those are two interests that he is pursuing at the college. He said he hopes his parents continue to donate throughout all four years of his education.

“If enough people are donating, I’m sure that makes a huge difference,” Zych said. “My parents want to make sure I have a good experience here.”

Shofer said her inspiration to donate each year is not one from passion but one from necessity. She said that without money from the private sector, the college would not be cost-effective and that donations are essential.

“If people just give a little bit, it’ll work,” Shofer said. “It’s not how much you give, it’s the idea that you give and the participation is just as important.”

First-year student Joy Petersen is a part of the college’s track team and said she had seen social media coverage of last year’s Giving Day. She said all the sports teams take the day of donations very seriously.

“There are a lot of benefits that come out of Giving Day,” Petersen said. “We got a lot of nice merch and a lot of overnight trips. I’m able to compete in my sport as a result of the money and it’s nice to be able to do these things because of the generosity of people that have made a donation.”

Vivian Rose can be reached at vrose@ithaca.edu